After twenty-five minutes, Josh ‘King of Diamonds’ Paiva (8-2) could feel it in his bones, literally, before the ring announcer orated the judges’ decision at Global Knockout (GKO) 8; the GKO Flyweight Championship belonged to his opposition: Joseph ‘Bopo’ Morales (7-0).
An intense training camp with his new fight team, MMAGOLD, fed Paiva’s eagerness to return to the cage following a win at Bellator 154. Days before Paiva’s main event meeting with Morales, he appeared on Episode 7 of the MMAGOLD Podcast (link here) and pounded the airwaves with a steely chill in his voice, detailing his health and mindset meter were at full capacity leading into November 19, 2016:
“I did a full eight-weeks solid and started here [MMAGOLD] about three-weeks before that. I’m training with a new group and new resources; a lot of new training partners—great training partners, great coaches. I get a lot of guidance here and a lot of camaraderie. Everybody is cool, and everybody is tight-knit. I’ve really enjoyed the spirit here.”
During Paiva’s walkout, an aurous corner of cheers welcomed him from backstage to the center of attention inside the Grand Oak Ballroom. The pop for Morales during his entrance punctuated Paiva as the underdog. Red corner, blue corner, underdog, or favorite, the bell would ring in any instance, and Paiva presumed he was prepared.
From round one to the close of round five, the ‘King of Diamonds’ mined every inch of the canvas, both standing and grappling, for the finish, yet Morales detonated any opportunities with a relentless offense of his own, caving in any of Paiva’s plans to possess GKO’s gold.
Even when Paiva found himself in a position of dominance, things didn’t shape out as expected, primarily in the form of a triangle. On multiple occasions, hammer fists and elbows were dropped like weapons of mass destruction; then, in the blink of an eye, Morales would wrap his legs around Paiva’s neck or crank on any extended limbs, triangulating a path to victory.
Many of Morales’s submission attempts would have constricted the determination from anyone else at 125-pounds, though not Paiva. With or without the belt, Paiva, the reigning Dragon House Flyweight Champion portrayed an elite-caliber of resolve.
Once the GKO executives lined the pockets of both Paiva and Morales with the Fight of the Night bonus, Paiva’s pants sagged some. Although he’d prefer to hold his pants in place with GKO’s flyweight belt, he pulled them up as quickly as his defeated demeanor—already forecasting a fortuitous walk along the golden road with his team in El Dorado Hill, and friends, to his next place as a prizefighter.